Nils-Hennes Stear – Is Aesthetic Immoralism Obviously True?

Wednesday 13th March 2019,  5pm – 7pm

Three dominant theories explain how ethical properties determine aesthetic ones in artworks. Autonomism denies any determining relation. Moralism affirms one according to the valence constraint: ethical merits only ground aesthetic merits, ethical flaws only ground aesthetic flaws. Immoralism affirms one too, but denies the valence constraint. The question these theories answer, I argue, can be (and knowingly or not has been) read in one of two ways: the ‘counterfactual’ and the ‘as-such’ way. Each reading requires a different kind of answer: a counterfactual or an as-such theory, respectively. I argue that if one accepts the so-called qua problem, as-such theories run into a dilemma: they either rely upon dialectically unhelpful (if not question-begging) considerations, or else collapse into counterfactual theories. This leaves the counterfactual reading, to which I show immoralism is the obvious answer. The discussion has various significant consequences for the aesthetic moralism debate as a whole that I lay out at the end.